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Unsponsored immigration

Highly skilled individuals What unsponsored immigration routes are available for highly skilled foreign nationals to seek employment in your jurisdiction? What are the eligibility criteria, application procedures and maximum period of stay for each?

The Tier 1 route provides an alternative route for highly skilled migrants to live and work in the United Kingdom. Migrants are not required to be sponsored by a licensed sponsor; they can be entrepreneurs, investors or of exceptional talent.

Entrepreneurs What unsponsored immigration routes are available for entrepreneurs seeking to establish a business in your jurisdiction? What are the eligibility criteria, application procedures and maximum period of stay for each?

The entrepreneur route allows migrants to set up or run a business in the United Kingdom. To apply, the migrant must have:

  • access to £50,000 in investment funds from an approved source; or
  • access to £200,000 in investment funds, which must be the migrant’s own money or made available to him or her via a third party.

Any application will be subject to a genuine entrepreneur test. The Home Office must be satisfied that the migrant genuinely intends to take over at least one business in the United Kingdom. The Home Office will also actively consider the migrant’s background, including the source of any funds, mandatory business plan and professional background.

The maximum stay permitted is five years. Permanent residence may be applied for after five years’ continuous residence.

Graduate entrepreneur This visa category is open to recent UK graduates who have a business idea which they wish to set up. Applicants must receive an official endorsement before applying. The endorsement can be from a UK higher education institute or from the Department for International Trade. There is a limit of 2,000 places per annum for this category. 

Investors What unsponsored immigration routes are available for foreign investors seeking to invest in your jurisdiction? What are the eligibility criteria, application procedures and maximum period of stay for each?

The investor route permits migrants to invest a minimum of £2 million in UK government bonds, share capital or loan capital.

Migrants are eligible for permanent residence under this visa category after five years. An accelerated settlement route applies which allows a reduced qualifying period for settlement purposes. Investment of at least £5 million reduces this to three years, or a £10 million investment reduces this to two years. 

Ancestry Are any immigration routes open to foreign nationals based on ancestry or descent?

Yes. The UK ancestry visa route provides an alternative route to work in the United Kingdom. The migrant must be a Commonwealth citizen and provide evidence that one of his or her grandparents was born in the United Kingdom.

Other routes Are there any other unsponsored immigration routes?

There are other visa routes which provide entry to the United Kingdom.

The representative of the overseas business route permits entry to overseas migrants who work for an overseas entity. It must be the intention of that entity to establish a commercial operating presence in the United Kingdom. The migrant must:

  • hold a senior position with the entity;
  • be employed and paid outside the United Kingdom; and
  • have extensive expertise within the sector.

Turkish nationals who intend to establish a new business in the United Kingdom may seek entry under the Turkish ECAA Visa route. Applicants may also join an existing business operating in the United Kingdom if they will be actively concerned in the running of the business. 

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